Tech Uncensored – The Fragile Community: How Do Businesses Rebuild

About the episode:

Since the prosperity of Web 2 and social media platforms, Twitter has become a place for people to connect with others and to build communities together. However, Elon Musk interfered the operation of Twitter significantly and impactfully, leading to the communities on Twitter being more fragile than ever. In this episode, our host, Hessie Jones, invited Mia Shah-Dand and Alaric Aloor to discuss what is the most critical challenge and how businesses rebuild. 

Tech Uncensored is a live podcast series by Altitude Accelerator. We cover topics that matter and we engage with our community in honest and unfiltered conversation. Please join us on LinkedIn Live at 12:30 pm EST every Friday.

Key takeaways: 

  • More than 10 years ago, Twitter brought users in by allowing them to “microblog” and build micro communities. But the problem is: Using the platform is like renting a space in another’s world, and you have no control over it. 
  • Twitter is an international platform for activists building a community for good. However, recent layoffs and management failures almost destroyed the ecosystem. The reason is simple: The institutional knowledge owned by former employees is irreplaceable, and Twitter is not going to be operated normally with a small number of tech people.
  • The immobility of the platforms like Twitter also causes communities to be fragile. They made the platform easy to use to foster massive adoption, which makes businesses hard to leave. The platforms also have tricky policies and the superior power to shut down any accounts.  
  • Mastodon is an alternative way to build communities – but it very different from Twitter. Mastodon is decentralized and open source, and it helps users to meet other people that are in the same space in an organic way. 
  • Focusing more on building protocols that allow people to communicate freely is more important than focusing on platforms. This is a good opportunity to reset and take back control. If you are running a business – you need to own the relationship with your customer.

Watch the whole discussion to learn more about how the communities is destroyed and what the solutions can be.

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If you have topic suggestions or you would like to participate in discussions, please fill out the form below. We’ll contact you at our earliest convenience.

[showhide type=”transcription” more_text=”Show Transcription” less_text=”Hide Transcription”]

Hessie Jones (00:03)
Welcome to Friday, everyone. Elon Musk has been in the news from the first day that he acquired twitter back in October 28. You actually can’t buy that kind of press that this chief twitter has actually amassed in the the last three weeks. So if people have been following, his decisions have actually caused chaos. They’ve disrupted a lot of advertising revenue opportunities as well as users in the platform. And it’s dismantled whatever semblance of community that actually remains there. We’re seeing massive layoffs engineering being fired and then rehired again, structural mishaps and experiments on business models that seem to be kind of failing miserably. So welcome everyone to tech uncensored. I’m Hesse jones. The mess that many of us who are on twitter does have lasting impacts. And it’s not only to individuals, but also on small businesses who actually spend time building their brands and nurturing their communities on twitter and all these social media platforms for years. So what are they going to do? And do they actually have hope of actually salvaging the communities that they’ve built? So I’m pleased to be joined today. And I’m going to bring them up by Mia Shah-Dand, CEO of Lighthouse 3 and founder of Women in AI Ethics, a community I’m very proud to be part of.

Hessie Jones (01:36)
And Alaric Aloor, CEO of Archonsec, who is also a very good friend and my partner in crime when it comes to investment. So welcome to you both.

Mia Shah-Dnad (01:52)
Hi. Great to be here.

Hessie Jones (01:54)
So let me start I’m going to start the question to Mia. So you and I have actually met on facebook, and we migrated to twitter, and we kind of maintain our connection, especially within the AI and ethics space. And you successfully built community. From what I’ve seen, you’ve been able to engage community members very well. Tell us a little bit about the importance of community to you.

Mia Shah-Dnad (02:25)
Sure. At the risk of dating myself, because I know that a lot of young people around me these days I’m a gentler. So I’ll say this with twitter and the debacle that’s going on, it’s not my first rodeo. I’d like to take you back in time. So when I started in Silicon Valley, facebook was the new kid on the block. Amazon wasn’t the big. It was, and it was a very different space. And there was a social network. It was a microblogging platform called friend feed. It was a social feed aggregator in a time when people knew what RSS feeds were. And we were all bloggers at that time. It was like the heydays of like 20, and everybody thought they were blogging. And people couldn’t understand why you need to like, why do you need feed when you have Twitter? I think people totally underestimated the value of trend feed and you should look it up. It’s a very interesting story. And what it did was it allowed you to have a community, a microblogging community, but you didn’t actually have to go to any of the social networks. You could pull all the feeds into one place and you could have a discussion about it and you can share your own blog posts.

Mia Shah-Dnad (03:36)
Amazing sites. Amazing. It was revolutionary. But what happens with most things, great things, is that Facebook started copying its features and the next thing, you’re now buying it outright. And then they shuttered it. That was a time like my heart broken. So now that we are going through this Twitter and last night, I don’t know if anybody got any sleep, but I think a lot of us were up until like really late last night. I was saying goodbye to twitter. And I was just thinking how precarious this is that we’ve had this happen back in the early two thousand s. And now we’re in 2022. It’s the same story being repeated. Tech bros are going to just tech bro. That’s what they do. They build a platform, they sell it off, they move on. And I’ll give you a friend. Feed was bought out by Facebook. Then you had Tumblr by Yahoo. You had WhatsApp? And Instagram again by Facebook. It just continues on. And now Jack Dorsey just handed off the reins to this amazing site. I love Twitter, but again, I have a love hate relationship with it, but he handed it off and it’s like I’m starting this new protocol and what.

Mia Shah-Dnad (04:51)
So he feels very secure that the site is in the best hands with his pal Elon Musk. But end of the day, it’s a club. Like, we live in a peg billionaire’s world. We are renting space on that. And I think it should worry a lot of us that we have no control over these platforms. The best we can do in this space is you have to have backups. For your backups, you need to be on one platform. But as a business, you can’t be sentimental, even though we are human beings. So you just have distributed strategies. There are other platforms out there. We are on one right now on LinkedIn, and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now with what’s happening with Twitter. But I honestly are so happy I never have to hear the word Elon Musk ever again. Because between his three companies, twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, it’s part of my friend. It’s been a shit show.

Hessie Jones (05:46)
Thank you. I think I’m hoping to unplug this weekend. I’ve been kind of feeling my way around the other space, but I think it might be time. And honestly, I hate seeing Elon Musk at the top of my feed every day. I don’t understand. I don’t even follow with a man so defies the rules of community. Alaric, so you have been on Social for a while, and I met you actually on Twitter. You and I and Mia also were in the responsible tech space, and I met you through our interest in data privacy. But for you, talk to me a little bit about what you have built on social med
ia for yourself. What has it meant to you?

Alaric Aloor (06:38)
Okay, so I’ve been on the only social that I do is Twitter. There are people here that I’m speaking with that encouraged me to get on Twitter. And so I did begrudgingly in 2019, and it wasn’t for building my brand. My company has a Twitter account that’s managed and run and that does the brand awareness and the education part that we try to do, and also our marketing, right? So we use it for that. Mine was more I honestly had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew a few people, so I thought I’d get on and I afford some incredible relationships with them, which is why I’m here today talking with the both of you, which is great. So I think the connections right? So everybody’s experience of Twitter is very different, and mine has been very positive, and that’s not the case for the majority of people, right? But I also know of a lot of people who’ve been able to get opportunities that they might not have been able to have. It not been for Twitter. So it’s been great to meet people, it’s been great to interact with them, meet them outside of Twitter, know about them.

Alaric Aloor (07:39)
So that to me, when you talk about community, it’s my little community on Twitter, the friends that I’ve made, and there’s like a meme, the friends that we’ve made along the way. So I really have made some good friends along the way. And so that’s what I appreciate about Twitter, right? And I think it continues to function just in a different way. It’s going to iterate like most software ends up iterating, whether good or not, is just defined by the number of people in the audience that utilize that piece of software. So that’s what it is meant to me from a business perspective. And I run a small business, right? So the brand awareness part has been really important because I go to conferences where people might or might not know me. But what has been cool is that they recognize my company. And so I’m like, oh, hey, this is kind of cool. And they’re like, oh, hey, you’re that guy who runs that company. I’m like, oh, so you know me. And I think that’s really important from a small business perspective. Right. So is my company going to stay on Twitter, probably, and going to continue doing whatever it is doing?

Alaric Aloor (08:42)
Do we have sales coming because of Twitter? Probably not. My company wasn’t built on Twitter. It’s built because this development is hard and it happens outside in the real world. But I appreciate the brand awareness part of the fact that we’re out there and people recognize us and other brands recognize us. So it’s helped us foster some business to business relationships, not like the business development, but Cisco with Microsoft, which we work with in Google. So I think that to me, has been the most valuable part of Twitter. People like you meaning that. So that’s been cool, very cool.

Hessie Jones (09:18)
Thank you. So I’ll turn to Mia and let’s talk a little bit about some of this chaos and how it’s an impact of the community. He pronounced that the platform is going to be more about free speech, and so that just threatened the ad model. And so now we’ve seen a mass exodus of advertisers. We’ve also seen a lot of the layoffs from employees. And some of the critical layoffs that we’ve seen are from the human rights groups as well as the content moderators who are essential to the platform. You work in the responsible tech space. I want you to respond to me from that framework and tell us what the impact of the removal of some of these key roles of these users on the platform? What has it had on people like you and me?

Mia Shah-Dnad (10:17)
So I’ve been watching the evolution of just the space, social media in general, and especially Twitter. And what made Twitter special and different is that it actively hired and recruited a lot of women. From a management perspective and just workforce perspective, I think it had one of the highest percentages of diversity in Silicon Valley, which is just a boys club that faced it. So Twitter was this model and they were doing some work in responsible AI space, which was a team that was very well regarded human rights. And it felt like a beacon of hope for a lot of folks, because folks are using this platform for activism. And you know what’s happening in Iran because of Twitter. Like a lot of us, we were talking about just the scale, right? Twitter is a smaller site compared to its peers. Now, Twitter, before we started this conversation, Alaric, we were talking about how the daily user count for Twitter is about 250 million. Facebook, by comparison, is 2 billion. But for those 250, only 50 million on Twitter is actually from the US. A lot of this is international, so you don’t get that breadth of coverage and international perspective.

Mia Shah-Dnad (11:38)
So it is a very influential site, but at the same time, it also, again, failure of management or failure of just that’s just how Silicon Valley is, is motivated by greed, is motivated by profits, and it’s sold out pretty much. It has the potential to be something amazing. And everyone’s talking about the layoffs, the tech workers. And believe it or not, I got in the middle of the night and I’m thinking, wait a second, what about all these people, all these big brands? And I work with many of them, and I have worked and I’ve set up teams, community teams, for a lot of big brands. They have set up entire teams, Twitter support teams, and I’m just thinking, what about those people? What about their livelihoods? And we are just looking at the front facing because Twitter workers, there’s Silicon Valley, and we are talking with just those people, that there’s an entire ecosystem, a support for dedicated to Twitter, and with one fell swoop, he has destroyed that ecosystem and is so fragile right now. And I showed it to think what’s going to happen to all those folks, which are, this is an invisible workforce that nobody is talking about.

Mia Shah-Dnad (12:50)
So the impact is massive from a small business perspective. Not as
much because it’s more of an influence 100%, it’s a brand building awareness site. It is a cloud chasing site in some ways, but I just feel like we are underestimating the influence that it had in so many different ways and we’re just seeing the beginning. This is only the iceberg, like tip of the iceberg.

Hessie Jones (13:17)
Thank you. I don’t think people realize that when something like this happens, what actually happens to employees within their company who actually moderate on their own from a brand perspective, etc. And tons of content development teams everywhere that have been impacted. So thank you for telling me about that. So I’m going to turn to Alaric, because you work in the security space and some of the other critical layoffs were some key engineers. So how has this actually impacted the infrastructure and more importantly, I guess, the experience for the wider network.

Alaric Aloor (14:02)
So I don’t necessarily know that the impacts are going to be felt like now, immediately. So last night, like me, I was saying, I was up late last night just to see what was happening. So for the last few weeks there’s these people talking about, I’m leaving Twitter, I’m leaving, we’re going off. And then last night it was like, Twitter is going to go down. Well, no, they’re very complex systems, right? Like Twitter, it’s smaller compared to its peers, very small compared to its peers. But the footprint that it’s outsized to the footprint in terms of the number of people around the world, not just US centric, right? We seem to have this very US centric focus on what it does and how it’s used, but it’s used by people in Ukraine. We’ve got where Russia attacked Ukraine and now we’re getting all of this open source information that will no longer be accessible. So the reliability of the site is really, really important. I don’t think firing your staff and then giving them an ultimatum necessarily helps because you lose so much institutional knowledge and you cannot get that back. So let me give you a little small business example.

Alaric Aloor (15:09)
We’re a 20 person company. If we lose one person in a 20 person company, that’s really detrimental to our business. So hiring is even harder because you want to have somebody that comes in and fits, but also does the work technical. You can get a lot of people who do technical work. Cultural fits are hard, but when you just shutter, your company literally shutter today, right? The doors are closed today. There’s no access. So will the site continue to run? Yes, but it will break eventually. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. And it will break, like a simple thing. So Twitter has a lot of on premises infrastructure. They’re not on the cloud. So when you think about stuff in a data center, a network cable being unplugged can pull down services across the world. That network cable needs a physical person to plug it back in. All that cable goes back, right? A hard disk getting full, all of these things happen. I think there’s been a lot of things on Twitter where people that have no understanding of the space are like, well, I could run this company with 100 people.

Alaric Aloor (16:14)
No, you can’t. In 2013 and 2014, every time there was a significant event, twitter experience overload and fail whale it became part of our lexicon because Twitter would crash and crumble. It’s very complex, and complex systems fail. You know how complex systems fail is a piece that I always talk about, I read all the time. It’s very important that people understand that it is very complex. Twitter engineering is incredibly complex, and what they’ve built is great. Now, can you choose to lose some of the quote unquote fat? Sure. But you cannot go from 7500 to, like, 100 people and say everything’s going to be running. It just doesn’t work that way. None of this works that way. It doesn’t work with compliance. They’re going to be in violation of GDPR very soon. The FTC is going to be after them very soon. And I tweeted today about making sure that if you’re using Twitter for a single sign on SSL anywhere else, get rid of that and revoke those sessions because it’s not reliable. Am I going to say Twitter is not secured and security issues have been addressed in front of Congress? When the A whistleblower, there are going to be more and more of those because the entire security team has been let go, including their system.

Alaric Aloor (17:27)
So nothing good is going to come out of this. And the people that keep saying it’s going to keep functioning, or the tech bros are like, yeah, I’m going to come in and work twelve now, man, you don’t know anything. You don’t know anything about anything. You cannot just put somebody in today and say, I understand the scope and the magnitude of services that Twitter offers, and I can fix it when it goes on. It just doesn’t work that way. So is it secure as securities as it was last week, sir, as Secura was sure. They also have controls in place right now that no code can be pushed to production. That’s clearly not happening because things are happening every day and changing. So from a data privacy perspective, I would say if you’ve got DMs, okay, this is a big part, right? So if you’ve got DMs and you are using direct messages to share any sensitive information which you should not have, go ahead and delete them as soon as possible. Get rid of them. Twitter is still going to have a copy of it. A month or two ago, I was said, within 30 days, if you’re deleting DM, Twitter would have deleted.

Alaric Aloor (18:24)
I don’t necessarily know that’s going to be the case anymore, but delete them. Direct messages, unless they’re anti cryptid, which they are not here on Twitter or on Mastodon, do not send any sensitive information or PII using direct messages. All it is is a message. So there’s my two cent on security and privacy with where Twitter is right now.

Hessie Jones (18:46)
Okay. And you’re scaring me because I tried to delete all my messages. And I think the way you do it, it’s one message at a time.
You can’t, like, en masse delete all your messages. So that has been an issue. And I’ve been bad because I have had DMs going back to 2010, I think. So that’s a problem. Okay, so both of you have moved over to Mastodon. I’m going to start with Alaric, because you’ve actually been experimenting with Mastodon, I guess, even before Twitter. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what makes it different? What should people expect when they go.

Alaric Aloor (19:28)
Okay, so in terms of experimenting, yes, I’ve been experimenting with it. I just spun up my own personal instance. A couple of days ago. I was playing around with Docker into the non technical stuff, it’s container computing. And then I jumped in. I just set up my own server a couple of days ago. I’m running that. I’m going to do it, I think, for a while, so I can test it. So, number one, what is the difference? So there is not a one to one comparison between Twitter and Mastodon. I think if we it’s not like a Twitter replacement. And I think the messaging has been and it gets through no fault of anybody, the messaging is so important in anything, and it’s been very poor right now because people keep saying it’s very hard, it’s hard to sign on. What server do I go to? And I think it’s getting better because one of the things with centralized computing, which is what Twitter is, as opposed to decentralized computing, and I’m not talking decentralized like the bitcoin people are. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m simply saying I just want to be very clear.

Alaric Aloor (20:25)
Centralized means Twitter is a walled garden, and Mastodon, which is built on activity hub, is not. It’s open source, essentially. So it is harder. So Twitter has all of their servers in multiple data centers around the world for redundancy Mastodon, which is a microblogging platform like me, I was talking about. That’s all it is right? There’s Twitter, there’s Mason, and they do something similar, but they’re not one to one replacement. There’s instances servers that are run by volunteers, essentially, or people like myself for testing. I’m setting it up so that some of my friends and family can get on there mostly just as a joke, right? I don’t know if we’re going to use it. I like Mastodon because it has really helped me meet even more people in my space, information security and people that on Twitter would never show up in my aggregated timeline because Twitter almost always promotes outrage and clickbait and they didn’t show up. And I’m making some more organic connections on Mastodon. But I think messaging needs to be better because at the end of the day, you just put an app on your phone or in a browser on your computer and you tweet out or post out or toot out.

Alaric Aloor (21:37)
I don’t like that term toot. You just put out whatever it is you want to put out. And hashtags are really important on Mastodon because that’s how discovery occurs. And I really like that because as opposed to somebody being found without that, there can be Pylons. There’s no quote tweeting. And I go back and forth about the quote tweeting because I’ve been on Black Twitter. How they’ve created the whole culture has been because of quote tweeting. And it’s really cool because that was not something I was aware of like three weeks ago. So three weeks ago if you told me how quote tweeting is not on Mastodon, it’s a great thing, I would have been like, absolutely. Because it always leads to Pylons. But it leads to Pylons in this section of the community, but not on this section because this section built the community using that. Right? So it’s really interesting with Mastodon because the instances are so disparate. They all connect using federation. But you can have there’s like a literal Black Twitter masternon server. It’s called blacktwitter IO. You can get on there if you want it’s open, but they’re federated with other things.

Alaric Aloor (22:42)
So when people say, hey, how am I going to find this other content? Content curation and finding your followers. There are now ways to do it a little easier, but you have to do a little bit of work. Difference between centralized versus decentralized. Centralized says, hey man, you follow this person, you follow this lady here, follow this person. Because they’re similar. It doesn’t give you that. There’s not a recommendation algorithm running in the background. It’s literally based on when somebody posts it, you see it. Boosting is more important because then your people see it and then you like that person and regardless of what server they’re on, you connect with them. And I think that really fosters person to person connections. And I think one of my favorite things about Mastodon is that there are zero influencers on there. Just zero. They might but like it’s so easy to just be like up block. You can block the entire domain. And it makes me so happy because what I don’t want to see is, hey, come check out my thing. I know zero about security, but come to my class and pay $300 and you’re going to be a cybersecurity expert.

Alaric Aloor (23:47)
The other term that I don’t like is expert. It’s just unicorn expert. There was another one that you mentioned, another term, I don’t know what it was.

Hessie Jones (23:57)

Alaric Aloor (23:58)
Viral, yes. But I think it’s important that the messaging gets better and I think it’s contingent upon the people, people like other people that are using Mastodon to get people to understand what it is. Right. Because everyone’s like, hey, Twitter is going down, let’s go to Mastodon. I don’t necessarily know that you’re going to see every single thing you saw on Twitter on Mastodon, and that’s a good thing. It’s just we have to operate a little differently.

Hessie Jones (24:23)I did see Walter Shaws, I think he was a former ethics lead guy. He actually had a list of all the journalists that are going to Mastodon. So he had a whole list of their contact information. And so from that perspective, I don’t know what that means in terms of whether or not there is going to be a full migration from the media side, but that’s already telling. That list is already being created and curated.

Alaric Aloor (24:55)
Yeah, there’s a full server there on Mastodon. It’s called journal mastodon.

Hessie Jones (24:59)

Alaric Aloor (25:00)
Just for journalists that are moving there. So I do think it’s cool. Just one thing about the migration from Twitter, I know that’s like, that’s a hashtag, that’s trending. I don’t know that everybody from Twitter needs to go to Mastondon. In fact, I don’t think a lot of the trash that’s on there really needs to move. I know that it’s hard to prevent that with the instance that I’m on. I help moderate it when I have the time. It’s kind of cool. It’s an information security exchange. And it’s interesting to see that the trolls are coming in. And so content moderation is hard and we’re volunteers and by no means experts in it, but I hope influencers don’t come, but trolls are slowly coming. I just hope that there’s not a full scale migration from Twitter to Mastodon because I don’t think that’s necessary.

Hessie Jones (25:43)
You actually like the trolls better than the influencers?

Alaric Aloor (25:46)
Yeah, I can actually pull the trolls because the influencers are almost always very sneaky.

Hessie Jones (25:51)
Interesting. Okay, so I’m going to turn to Mia. So what has been your experience so far on that?

Mia Shah-Dnad (25:58)
Okay, I want to go back to the previous question that other counts did and then go from there. It’s about skill sets. So you and I have worked on women in Aiotics, and we are trying to get more diversity into the space. It’s been fascinating to me how people talk about skill sets when it comes to a minority. Like when you’re hiring a person of color, whereas you’re hiring a white dude, right? Elon Musk cosplays as an engineer he’s not an engineer. He does not have any qualifications. Right? So I feel like it gives all the engineers a bad name. Like, there’s legit engineers out there who know what they’re doing. They build beautiful things, they build beautiful sites, and they build beautiful, amazing products, life changing products, really. So kudos to the Twitter team. They’ve done a great job. And actually, there were other people. Again. This is how Silicon Valley works. It wasn’t their original code, but they built it, maintained it, built on it. Great. But also, that being said, first is this blurring of line between the tech bros who have no technical expertise whatsoever, opinion on everything, whereas lead shirt engineers who get drowned out.

Mia Shah-Dnad (27:04)
But then again, building a software company is not and running a community is not the same as building rockets. And I think that gets fundamentally missed. It’s like, oh, he’s running this company, he can run this one. No, that’s not how anything works. So you can’t have these communities led by tech growers who have no experience. Because one thing what Facebook did do well, it did bring in somebody to operationalize everything. So I had to admit it, when it comes to operationalizing, they did a decent job. How we think, what we think about their ethics, I wouldn’t want to go there. It’s a topic for another time. But the fact that he’s not able to operationalize any of this just shows a fallacy of this technical thinking. So that’s the site so now mastodon. Actually, I was in the room when I was at Google, when Google engineers were trying to build Google Plus, and they’re like, how hard could it possibly be, right? Like, yeah, we’ll build it. We know what happened with Google’s on there. So we know that hubris in this industry have like, we learned nothing. It feels like same issues being repeated.

Mia Shah-Dnad (28:11)
It’s a lot for this hubris. People don’t want to consider, like, historic evidence. They think we’ll do it better, and so on. And that’s why we have folks like SDF, we have folks like Musk and so on. So that said, now Mastodon is interesting because everybody keeps talking about how algorithms are bad. And there’s a school of thought that talks about algorithms. They control everything, actually, and they do. But the thing is, it also curates content if it’s done right. Because I’m looking at the Federated timeline on Masterdon right now. It just like a blur because it’s moving so fast. And these servers, as we get more and more people joining in, you’re going to have a hard time keeping on top of it. So I love what Alaric is doing, others are doing. They’re setting up their own instances. And I feel like in one way, it’s good that we discovered from the Web 2.0 the promise was to be decentralized. Everybody. Was building their own websites. Everybody was a builder, creator. Now we’ve become this place where everybody is like tweeting. Tweet is like, what are you building? Like a piece of tweet is not meaningful, I’m sorry to say.

Mia Shah-Dnad (29:26)
Like, people have built entire careers off of their hot takes. Mainly we are headed in this direction. Like you take control of your instance, you’re building your own, like working on your own server. Like people are moderating. This was the original promise. So it feels like we come a full circle and there seems to be this notion that there’s always going to be people who just want everything outsource. Let the big tech figure out what I should watch, what I should see, and let them figure out we’ll follow this talking head because they obviously know what we’re doing. And I feel with Twitter there’s been this dumbing down that people just feel like a tweet is good enough. You don’t need to really read or do any kind of indepth thinking or critical thinking. Which is why, again, to Alaric’s point 100%, I feel like we need more people who do that critical thinking. In that thinking, we need fewer influencers and more critical thinkers. And if I feel like Mastodon can get us there, but it’s not going to be like solved to you. You will have to put in the effort. And I feel the effort is worth it.

Alaric Aloor (30:31)
Can I jump in here real quick about what Mia said? The thing about things being served up on Twitter, right, it’s easy, but I think that the cool thing. So everything is coming to big circles. Everything old is new. The cool thing is, I think as a new generation, I’m not talking about behind us. What they are going to see is the internet as it was originally envisioned, right? Because it’s not just served up to you. It’s not just I’m not going to say easy because it’s laziness that lets us want but you know why people want to leave Facebook? Because they’ve made it so easy. Right? And once you adopt it and once you get this critical massive adoption, it’s very hard to leave. Regardless, there are lots of people who criticize Facebook and continue to use it, right? So I think Google does not great security. It’s trash in privacy. I use my Gmail, the only one I’ve had since they sent it out in 2002 or 2003. But I use it for junk. It’s never used for anything. Their algorithm has no their profile of me is just terrible because I use it for all sorts of trash.

Alaric Aloor (31:35)
But that’s a really important point that people are now seeing the internet as it was envisioned. And the second point that Mia made, that I just want to add on to is that a whole industry of takehavers have monetized Twitter and they’ve built these massive followings and they’re just grifters. I’m not talking about influencers, I’m talking about pure grifters, left wing, right wing. I’m not even talking political, just grifting across the board, spreading lies, misinformation, disinformation, and the service of their substax or whatever platform, paying $8 a month, they’re making $500. They are the ones that are vociferous in their opposition to Twitter, not existing in a state, because those business models again, this is back to the small business thing. These people have built small businesses grifting, but small businesses still on Twitter. And those are people whose entire business models are now crumbling in front of their very eyes. Because if we see this mass influx to Mastodon any place else away from Twitter, and you don’t have those people to grift to, to lie to every day, you don’t make any money, and I’m not even going to take names. I think we all know who all these people are.

Alaric Aloor (32:50)
But that’s a really important point because I don’t know that mastodon is going to be good for those kinds of people. It is going to be good for lots of very different things. And I think that’s important to note is when people are coming on to find content, it’s not difficult, it’s different. We just have to change our mindsets. And it’s contingent upon us to help people that are not understanding that here. Serving a planner, maybe you have to shift a little bit to get to the planner. And I think that’s important to note with people moving to Mastodon.

Mia Shah-Dnad (33:33)
So you have a small business audience here. So one thing I would definitely point out is that you never want to put all your eggs in one basket. I understand as being a small business owner myself, that it’s not easy to be everywhere. But you have to have a channel A, channel B and channel C. Because if your customers don’t have a way to reach you with this for support, with this product, whatever that is, you are leaving too much at the mercy of these platforms. So if you are on Twitter, you should also have a solid presence on some other platform. And it can be depending on your business. It can be Facebook, you can be on Amazon. I personally don’t shop there. But it has been effective for a lot of small businesses. You can be on Instagram, you have to have a plan B. And if you don’t, I mean, you’re just setting yourself up for failure because that platform may disappear or they have so much control over you and then they’re gone, or they take away your access. Instagram I’ll say one thing people need to be very is they have an awful policy.

Mia Shah-Dnad (34:39)
I mean, they can shut your account down. Like they have so much power to moderators, they can just shut it down. So even on these sites have two accounts within Instagram, you have your main account and you have a backup account because one gets shut down, you have a second one. So as a small business, you can’t afford to be sentimental. You just have to be so pragmatic and just learn how to operate in this world again, this is the TECRO Central, man. That’s what Silicon Valley is all about. We just got to figure out a way to navigate the best we can.

Hessie Jones (35:12)
Thank you. Did you have anything to add? I just want to say that it seems like whatever’s happening at Twitter is a catalyst for this extreme reset. Probably the way we think about how to build their businesses. Yeah, I believe that coming from full circle. Like, I mean, we knew what we needed to do when we were building relationships, but now it’s kind of like, well now how do we monetize that? Now how do we manipulate? And we can’t do that. And I feel like I’m in Mastodon and I’m starting all over again. It’s refreshing in a way. It is manual in a very large way, but I get to see everyone and I get to choose and it’s civil. It’s a very different vibe righ
t now. And I feel like maybe that’s going to change, it’s going to change things.

Alaric Aloor (36:11)
So my only thing is, and I think we’re talking about this before we went live, is that I think the focus does not need to be on platform building as much as protocol building. And I think it’s important that because if we focus on protocols https there are protocols, right? They’re open, everybody is on a walled garden. And I think that’s what we need to stay away from. When I was talking about circle was that in technology, especially like there’s cloud onpremises cloud onpremises, cloud onpremises, people go to the cloud, people go on premises. It’s just a cycle. It always happens. And that’s where centralized, these centralized are like, let’s go to the cloud here, let’s go to a data center, let’s bring it literally inhouse. So I think all of technology, just like all of life, everything old is new and all of those things are relevant. But I think at least right now this gives us a chance, it gives us all a chance to step back and say, let’s not focus so much on these protocols as much as creating I’m sorry, platforms, as much as creating protocols that allow us all to just communicate freely.

Alaric Aloor (37:13)
And that communication and again, I’m not a post algorithm. I think algorithms, first off, the very definition of them as they’re used wherever, is incorrect. Right. An algorithm is simply to get from here to hear what are the steps you take. It is a very core of what an algorithm is. So, you know, now are we are certain platforms ingesting data and then spitting out if you ingest bad data just like you and take bad food, you’re going to see bad results. Right? And by bad, I mean it might be bad for me, it might be good for somebody else, but generally, if you’re promoting outrage, it’s what you’re feeding. Something like two nights ago, right? Or three nights ago, rest in peace, Jimmy Fallon was trending on Twitter. I’d like to see it because I think it’s very amusing. Right? So I didn’t even know what was happening. I opened the app. I’m like what? And I click on the trend, the hashtag, somebody started it as a joke. And then people keep tweeting with the hashtag, right? And literally, you can say, I don’t know what’s happening. When I’m going to post the hashtag in 1 hour.

Alaric Aloor (38:16)
It’s the number one trend on Twitter that’s not really good for any discourse, any conversation. And then Jimmy Fallon jumps in to say, tweet, said this the egomaniacal clown who runs this bird place. Can you stop this? No, he can’t, because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s not an engineer. He’s just a clown who talks like a clown all day, every day, and is in love with himself in the sound of his own voice. And I think that’s what’s not there on Mastodon, right? You seek out the people you choose to follow. You hear what they have to say. You engage in conversation. Now, whether it remains civil or not, I don’t think civility was lost because of Twitter. I think people are uncivil everywhere, right? I think right now there are people coming in, people that have been existing. So there’s at some point in time, and it’s already happening, you’re going to see this little clash of cultures, for lack of a better term. I was here. So should this new person come here and do in Rome as the Romans do, or should we meet somewhere in the middle? I think that’s going to be the next clash of civility, and hopefully it’s resolved without the acrimony that was on Twitter.

Alaric Aloor (39:26)
But yeah, so that would be like my little bit that I think it’s not going to be served to us. So therefore we have to it’s just like you have to go to this buffet and pick what you want, as opposed to sitting at a table and being served. I don’t know. It’s a very crass analogy, but I think it works.

Mia Shah-Dnad (39:43)
Thank you.

Hessie Jones (39:44)
That’s awesome. Any last words, Mia?

Mia Shah-Dnad (39:48)
Yes, we’ve talked about Wall Gardens a lot. And again, that’s one of those conversations we’ve been having since the beginning of time. And the challenge is the same people who are talking about this new Web 3 and decentralized, well, they’re the same people who made everything centralized, where they just handed over. They’ve been busily consolidating so much power because they understand there’s so much power in the platform. And a lot of businesses just handed over control to companies like Google became your home page, and people don’t even realize when that happened. So this is a good time to hit reset and take back some of the control. And I would definitely start with building your brand loyalty. One industry that’s done really well, which is not I would say an industry, but in the independent bookstores. They’ve done a fantastic job of just building a community, building a business outside of the big tech Googles of the world and just looking down Google the outside of Facebook and others because they created a community. There are creative ways. So I hope it reminds people that you need to own the relationship with your customer. You cannot outsource that because that’s what you’re doing.

Mia Shah-Dnad (41:11)
We are putting our customer data, we are connecting these with these people. And we talk about the social graph and you’re talking about from a personal perspective as a business, you want to be able to take those relationships, which is why email is still such a powerful medium today. And maybe it’s time to go back to old school until we find something newer that works better and the type of email client you use. My Gmail is the new yahoo. I can remember how anybody sends me an email from Yahoo and I’m like, Why? I don’t understand this. But again, my only parting thoughts ar
e like platforms come. Platforms will go. Technologies are ever changing. You have to just own that relationship with your customer. Figure out which platform works best for your business. Because end of the day, you’re running a business. So it’s a means to an end. You’re not there to just socialize like some of us are. You tries to have it both ways, but if you’re running a business, you’re serious about it, then you just need to look at like, does this deliver to my customers when I needed to deliver?

Mia Shah-Dnad (42:20)
Am I reaching the right people? If your audience is in the United States and you’re on Twitter, which is like majority is international, so you need to really have to rethink your strategy. It’s the same with us mastodon on any new platform that comes along. It’s the basics, right? Go back to the basics and fundamentals like why are you even on this platform? It’s a question everybody needs to be asking and they should be answering that before even deciding. Is this the right platform for me? It depends. What do you want to do with it?

Hessie Jones (42:51)
Perfect. I think I’ll leave it there. This has been such an amazing conversation. I always learn so many new things when I’m around you too. So thank you. Thank you for joining us everyone, today. If you have suggestions on future topics, please put it in the post in LinkedIn or email us at communications at altitudeaccelerator CA. And please join us next week. We’ll be here same time, same place. I’m Jesse Jones. And until next time time, I guess. Have fun and stay safe. Thank you guys.

Mia Shah-Dnad (43:32)
Thanks Alaric. Bye.


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